Vuhl 05 ROC review: A crazy roadster race car for the street

Indeed, the Vuhl (rhymes with “tool” and “don’t drool”) is pretty cool. The design is wonderfully simple. It’s based around an aluminum tub with a honeycomb aluminum floor sandwiched with carbon-fiber sheets and wrapped in a carbon-fiber body. The powertrain is just a 2.3-liter turbocharged Ford Ecoboost four-cylinder with a Ford manual six-speed transmission – same powertrain you’ll find in a Ford Focus RS. The drivetrains are sourced in the U.S., purchased direct from Ford dealers. As with one or two clever sports cars of the past (Warren Mosler’s Mosler Consulier, Chuck Beck’s Shogun), designers simply lifted the whole drivetrain from the front of a front-wheel-drive car and put it into the back of a midengine rear-wheel-drive car. So simple, so clever, so cheap. And if you ever need parts, they’re as close as your nearest Ford dealer.
The Vuhl stands for Vehicles of Ultra-Lightweight and High Performance. So shouldn’t that be V-U-L-H? Don’t overthink it. Vuhl is the brainchild of two Mexican brothers, Iker and Guillermo Echeverria. The two virtually grew up on racetracks, watching their father Guillermo Sr. race for, depending on when you ask, either 30, 40 or as many as 45 years. The brothers got a private investor, a grant from the Mexican government, and they invested their own money to start the company and built this car. The company is now self-sustaining, as it makes carbon fiber parts for aerospace, as well as bodies for race cars, among other products. They were present at Pebble Beach with four cars. Maybe you saw them. So far they have delivered 45 cars to customers worldwide.
Their first U.S. dealer is an outfit called Black Shadow Motors in Temecula, California. It is owned by automotive and motorcycle enthusiast David Nordeen and his son Rick. If you’re in the Petersen Automotive Museum’s Checkered Flag 200 group, a support arm of the museum, then you know David. He has a small collection of cars that ranges from a 1969 Pontiac Ram Air GTO to a 1929 Ford Roadster pickup with a Riley 2 Port OHV head. He also has a Vincent Black Shadow Lightning, the latter being the inspiration for the company name. Nice.
Black Shadow also sells, services and restores niche cars of all vintages, but it specializes in lightweight sports cars. Shinoo Mapleton is also part of Black Shadow. Previously, Mapleton specialized in performance parts for the Lotus Elise and Exige through his company Sector111. He also sold the Ariel Atom, BAC Mono and the Drakan, the latter which he and a really cool Portland, Oregon, company called Palatov created. InoKinetic is the company that owns Black Shadow Motors and sells Lotus performance parts. So small and lightweight are a specialty.
Now Black Shadow Motors is an authorized dealer for Vuhl, and as such made a Vuhl available to me for a drive. Did you follow all that?